Shire (SHP.L), the London-listed rare diseases specialist that is a potential takeover target for Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical (4502.T), is selling its oncology business to unlisted French drugmaker Servier for $2.4 billion.
Shire said on Monday it would consider returning proceeds from the sale to shareholders through a buyback and that further selective disposals of non-strategic assets were possible.
Under UK takeover rules, Takeda has until April 25 to announce whether or not it will bid for Shire, which has a market value of around $47 billion.
Buying Shire would be transformational for Takeda but would be a huge financial stretch, since the company is worth around $10 billion more than the Japanese group.
The drugs industry has seen a surge in deal-making this year as large players look for promising assets to improve their pipelines, but a Takeda-Shire transaction would be by far the biggest yet.